With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.
Starters: Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Other roster locks: Ryan Grant, Maurice Harris.
On the bubble: Robert Davis, Brian Quick
How the wide receivers compare:
To the rest of the NFL: This is an unproven group, with Pryor in his second year playing the position and Doctson coming off a lost rookie season. You don’t have to look far to find receiving groups with more proven production. The Giants have added Brandon Marshall to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard to form one of the top groups in the NFL. It’s arguable that the Cowboys have a better corps. But Pryor has produced a 1,000-yard season, Crowder improved from his rookie year to last year and Doctson is a recognized talent. They’re outside of the top 10 but not too far down the list, somewhere in the teens.
To the 2016 Redskins: The Redskins became the first team to lose two 1,000-yard receivers in a single offseason when both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left in free agency. They managed to recover about as well as could be expected by signing Pryor and having Doctson in the wings. And maybe the backups could be better than they were last year. Ryan Grant has been catching everything thrown near him in practice and Maurice Harris will have his rookie year out of the way. But the harsh reality is that you don’t easily replace receivers like Garçon and, especially, the speedy Jackson easily. This group must be considered a downgrade until we see production on the field that indicates otherwise.
Biggest upside: Doctson was off to a great start in training camp before he suffered a hamstring injury. His talent for high-pointing the ball could make him a favorite red zone and third down target.
Most to prove: Ryan Grant has been a favorite of the coaches since he was a fifth-round pick in 2014. But he had only nine receptions in 16 games last year. If he wants an NFL future here or elsewhere, he needs to catch passes.
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Rookie watch: Sixth-round pick Robert Davis has been targeted 11 times in two preseason games and he has 20- and 31-yard receptions. He is going to have to fight off Quick to remain on the roster but he appears to be ahead in that battle. Davis is helping his case by working as a gunner on the punt team.
Bottom line: There is no doubt that the team will miss the ability of Jackson to go deep, opening things up underneath. But it also is clear that the bigger, more physical receivers will help move the chains and increase red zone productivity. The size does not necessarily compensate for the loss of speed but Kirk Cousins still should find quality targets.
Jay Gruden on Ryan Grant:
He’s really strong, he’s in great shape, and he’s Mr. Consistent. Everything we ask him to do he does, and he does it right. No matter where he lines up, no matter what we ask him to do – he can come in the core and block the safety, whatever we want him to do, he can run whatever route from whatever positon and he runs at the right depth, perfect angles coming out of them. He’s just ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s why I like him. I like consistent, smart players and that’s what Ryan is.